Hidden Treasures

I just spent a long relaxing weekend with my husband and great friends in Three Rivers, California near Sequoia National Park. Nature is so magnificent. I can't help but feel joyful and happy whenever I am in it.  Being there allowed me to let go of distractions, focus my mind, and clearly see what was right in front of me. So often in busy life our mind is onto the next thing even before we complete the task at hand.

At night we all went outside to see the stars and were immediately in a state of wonder. Away from the city lights the sky brilliantly lit up and stars were visible all the way to the horizon.  For the first time ever I saw the milk of the milky way! It was spectacular.

It reminded me of a quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson, "If the stars should only appear but one night every thousand years how man would marvel and stare."  Living in Los Angeles I don't see stars like that everyday. I fully appreciated their beauty and I marveled & stared. I spontaneously recognized and appreciated the extraordinary treasure right in front of my eyes.

And the truth is whether I see it or not the milk of the milky way is always there.  This is also true of the hidden treasures tucked away, and yet right in plain-sight everyday in my own life.  Ironically, it's because I do experience my life everyday, and not just every thousand years that it becomes ordinary. Often so ordinary its easy to forget to look at all the gifts hidden right in front of me.  I simply take such things like the cold purified water I get to drink right from my kitchen, or the fact that all l have to do is flip a switch and my room lights up for granted.

Ralph Waldo Emerson also says, "The invariable mark of wisdom is to see the miraculous in the common."  In other words find the extraordinary in the ordinary.  My current teacher often says, "What you appreciate will appreciate."

Keeping a daily gratitude journal has become a simple yet profound ritual in looking for the good in my life. And beyond the actual ritual of writing down each night what I am grateful for the process encourages me to be on the lookout for such things throughout my day.

Most of us will likely experience challenge, set-backs, confusion, sadness, disappointment, heart-break and grief in our lifetime.  I certainly have.  So this concept of recognizing and appreciating the gifts in our daily lives is not about ignoring our challenges or not experiencing our pain.  I believe that to grow, heal, thrive and to maintain meaning and purpose we must experience our emotions and face our challenges.

The gratitude practice is about ALSO appreciating what is already good or of value in my life. It is a simple technique which allows me to develop the wisdom Emerson talks about by seeing the miraculous in the common.